Do you know what I meme?

Have you heard of LOLcats? Do you use Reddit or 4chan? If your answer is no to both of these questions, then you are probably unfamiliar with the term ‘meme’. Many times, I’ve seen people stare blankly when ‘meme’ has been used in conversation. The majority ask how the word is spelt, and then continue to look confused…

So what does it meme?

This weekend I read a good definition of ‘meme’ in The Sunday Times Magazine, so I thought I’d share it to help lift the lid once and for all on the term.

So here we go – “Meme: Rhymes with cream. Describes something that’s gone viral. The term was coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene. He came up with ‘meme’ as the cultural counterpart to a “gene”.

His examples included things passed down over generations: catchphrases, tunes, how to make pots, etc. Anything that spreads online – from Gangnam Style videos to surfing cats – is now labelled a “meme” the moment someone likes it on Facebook. In our disposable society, most memes are extinct in days.”

Reddit and Facebook are examples of platforms where memes are constantly created and shared. Indeed, there are even websites designed to help you easilly create your own meme to add to the mix, for example quickmeme.com. Some memes have been around for years whilst others come and go within hours. Popular memes include:

“First World Problems”:

According to knowyourmeme.com, ‘First World Problems are frustrations and complaints that are only experienced by privileged individuals in wealthy countries. It is typically used as a tongue-in-cheek comedic device to make light of trivial inconveniences’. E.g. –

All my friends are poor sat through the commercials

“Socially Awkward Penguin”:

Socially Awkward Penguin is ‘an ‘advice animal’ image macro series featuring a penguin lacking both social skills and self esteem. The text typically narrates uncomfortable life situations, highlighting an exceptionally clumsy or inelegant response’.

Automatic door SAP: Remembers joke at urinal

“Success Kid”:

Success Kid began life as a holiday snap in 2008 before becoming a widespread meme, used to demonstrate success as an ‘advice animal’ style image macro with captions:

Success Kid original –> Mum took my nose - got it back

Indeed, Virgin Media even utilised the popularity of this meme by releasing a billboard ad featuring the little fella in a red and white top. Read more on that at newrisingmedia.com.

Virgin Media Success Kid ad

“Overly Attached Girlfriend”:

Overly Attached Girlfriend ‘is an advice macro featuring a webcam picture of a girl and various captions portraying her in the stereotype of an overprotective clingy girlfriend’.

I save all your voicemails Oh, you mean for our honeymoon?

Marketing with memes?

Anybody can make and share a meme, and they are rife wherever you look on the internet. Brands can be featured in memes, such as the star of the Old Spice virals, however generally, these are created by consumers as a result of an impactful campaign:

Old Spice

In this way, you can see which brands have struck a chord with consumers and gain a sense of their reputation and social standing, whether positive or negative.

For more information on marketing with memes (without forcing it), and what causes a meme to resonate with people, I recommend this read at Blueglass.com.

Please feel free to add your thoughts on the subject and post your favourite memes below!

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Bodyform tells “The Truth”

Last week I attended an event by PRmoments.com where Graham @Goodkind discussed how a good PR story (as shown by a strong public reaction) is reliant on a combination of insight and trigger. One such example of a winning PR case study was Bodyform.

The story starts ‘allegedly’ on Facebook when a man named Richard posts on Bodyform’s wall to say how, in their ads, Bodyform lied to him about ‘this wonderful time of the month’ for women. The post is very humorous – I quote: “damn my penis”, as below:

Image

This prompted mass public response with people ‘Liking’ and sharing the post. Off the back of this, Bodyform then released a spoof video entitled ‘The Truth’ where the supposed CEO of Bodyform addresses Richard’s comments.

It is very tongue-in-cheek (“You forgot horse-riding, Richard”) and says that we women have tried to protect men from the truth about periods for a long time, and now Richard has shattered the illusion of happy periods for everyone.

The video has over 350k views, and the success of the stunt (as shown by the strong public reaction) is likely down to the surprise-factor, as well as the company’s willingness to subvert convention and the stereotypical imagery associated with the sanitary sector.

 Example coverage:

It certainly is memorable. What do you think?

Image

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Pimm’s O’ Clock!

To mark the start of British Summer Time, Pimm’s – a much-loved summer refreshment, made the world’s largest deckchair, which took centre-stage on Bournemouth beach!

To pull off this clever stunt, Pimm’s commisioned award-winning sculptor Stuart Murdoch. Once complete, the chair stood taller than a double-decker bus and weighed more than an adult elephant, making it the world’s largest deckchair.

After a dreary start to 2012, this cheerful picture, plus the promise of summer to come, was exactly what the public wanted, and certainly brought Pimm’s front-of-mind.

Interestingly, although some PRs critisised the lack of branding on the chair, the papers respected the brand plug anyway, with many picture credits hailing ‘Pimm’s O’ Clock!’

So, anyone for Pimm’s?

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ASDA Smart Price Valentine’s Day Stunt

Every now and then an amazing PR story comes along that you can’t help but respect. This week’s PR stunt, which I adore, comes from ASDA, as they look to promote their Smart Price range in the romantic, if recession-hit, month of February.

To mark Valentine’s Day, ASDA has created an ASDA Smart Price Valentine’s day card. The ‘romantic’ card, reading ‘Be My Valentine’, features a large heart-shaped ASDA Smart Price logo on the cover. Retailing at just 7p, the message inside reads, “My love for you is priceless”.

‘Aimed’ at those who ‘don’t take Valentine’s Day too seriously’, the card became an instant internet sensation (starting on Hot UK Deals), as the public discussed the prospect of receiving such an inexpensive romantic gesture, with hilarious results.

As the papers joined the fray, headlines such as “Is this the worst Valentine’s Day card ever?” hit, with forum-members joking that the card guaranteed a “quickie divorce”.

Despite the horror of some, the majority of the public saw the funny side, sharing the story widely. Personally, I looked forward to receiving a card from all of my friends and family (no excuses), and thought I should like a card for every room in my house:

Though the ‘story’ focussed largely on people’s reactions to the card, the fact that the RRP and trademark green and white design was a central aspect to the story, ensured that the overall communication objective of the campaign was delivered – awareness of the inexpensive ASDA Smart Price range!

Priceless PR! I love it.

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Steve Jobs: Product vs Personality

As the world comes to terms with the passing of Apple founder and former CEO, Steve Jobs, many writers and analysts are remembering the man who helped shape a generation, and indeed an era, through the medium of technology.

Renowned for his ‘visionary and creative genius’ and for creating products that are synonymous with modern day life, many are asking what the legendary Steve Jobs has taught us about marketing.

Well, I wanted to join the discussion, by taking a little look at what Steve Jobs has taught me.

For me, Steve Jobs is synonymous with the brand Apple. When I think of Apple, I think of Steve Jobs. Do I myself own any Apple products? No. But do I like the brand? Yes.

The truth is – for me, Apple does not only represent the end products – iPads, iPods, iTunes, iPhones – but also a sense of style, and the sense of an astute, overarching personality. A brand identity, if you will, tantamount to ‘the cool kid’ in school, who always has the latest, greatest gadgets, ready to thrill, surprise and enthral.

We have all seen clips of Steve Jobs proudly presenting his new creations in front of a branded back-drop, teasing his audience with fanciful treats, new launches, and the expectation of more to come – almost like the Willy Wonka of the technological world.

Proud to be different. Proud to be better. Proud to be back.

He is a person so synonymous with his brand that fans created a logo after his passing which encapsulates this inseparable association between man and brand.

I am sure all will agree that it is an unbreakable association and will be a part of a lasting legacy; as Apple state on their home-page: ‘His spirit will forever be the foundation of apple.’

So what can we learn from this? To me, it is a warning against faceless corporations, and a reminder of the importance of maintaining a personable and consistent brand identity.

Consumers look not just to products, but to people, and Jobs was the finest ambassador of his work – the Pièce de résistance, if you will, leading both the product and the consumer to their shared playing field like the Pied Piper.

Whilst most companies leave PR to their agencies, Jobs understood the importance of his own recommendation. He was the key spokesperson, the front-man. Without him, would we have been so excited about Apple products? Do other CEOs share their excitement about new launches so openly? Do they lead us on a journey?

Jobs has also taught us to take risks, to lead technology, products and markets into new territory, to revamp existing products and to make them beautiful, and he has shown us that it is possible to take the nation by the hand to this brave new land.

As well as his brands, Pixar and Apple, Jobs will be remembered as a person, for his enthusiasm, his intelligence, his creativity and pizazz, but also his advice. It goes a long way to explaining how this unseeming man, with his Harry-Potter-esque glasses, cast a spell over us all.

At a presentation for Stanford University, Jobs encouraged graduates to view life as a giant dot-to-dot, whereby everything you learn, and everything you pursue or accomplish becomes a dot within the larger picture, creating the premise of your future.

He states: “You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever, because believing that your dots will connect down the road, will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path, and that will make all the difference.”

He also said: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition – they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

In conclusion, and to acknowledge that we all have a lot to learn from Steve Jobs, albeit about marketing or about living, I will leave you with Jobs’ final parting advice:

“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

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Should Brands Use Foursquare?

When news of geo-location tools first hit, brands could gain positive coverage for being the first to explore and utilise the channel for marketing purposes. It showed that their forward-thinking communications team was on the digital-ball and rolling, finding new ingenious ways to interact and engage with consumers to promote business.

Now that the first wave of interest had subsided however, there seems to be less certainty that it is a channel worth exploring. As Lifehacker suggest, it is possible that the tool is only really of use in big cities where inhabitants are generally more tech-savvy, where competition between similar chains is fiercer, and where the app is thus more widely used.

That said, Foursquare still certainly remains a tool that all brands should be aware of – to have their fingers on the buzzer as it were, ready to launch the next innovative campaign or swiftly follow the next digital development at the earliest opportunity.

I would certainly recommend that PRs sign up to Foursquare and begin using the tool. I am now proudly a Foursquare ‘newbie’, ready and waiting to gain my badges, explore the ‘realm’, and discover the next great thing – be it a local restaurant or bar, or a priceless insight into digital marketing practices.

If you have a smilar interest, please do join me: shelley_george

N.B. This is Part 2 of 4 posts on this subject. Please do take a look at the following:

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The Cons: Foursquare

Despite the positive uses of Foursquare noted in my previous post, I do however have a few negatives to note about the tool that could be rectified with further development:

Target Audience: Though some brands clearly wish to connect with an adult audience, there are some badges on the platform that I (a young adult) would not want to earn or publicise. These include ‘Bender’, ‘School night’ ‘Douchebag’, ‘Gym rat’ etc. Perhaps it is this sort of slang that has limited the tool’s pick-up – it certainly seems aimed at a younger audience than the steady professional, particularly with the gaming mechanic at the centre of the tool. This might present a conflict of interest for some participating brands.

Motive: Unless there is a clear motive such as a reward for leaving tips or checking in, I can’t think of many occasions when I would actually bother. We are busy people these days after all. Not many of my friends are on Foursquare, and I’m not sure I would recommend it to the majority. Generally, my friends and I are happy to pick up a phone, send a text or use Facebook to liaise on outings, so Foursquare is a bit unnecessary.

Value: One word of advice that Lifehacker offers is not to auto-post your check-ins to Facebook or Twitter. This will prevent you deterring your social network followers with valueless updates – ‘I’m at… Blah’. Auto-posting also poses the risk of exposing your location to people who you might not wish to know, ranging from boss-figures to more sinister ‘creepy types’, so be sensible!

Region: When helping you look for brands to follow, I thought the tool could do with being more region-centric i.e. it would help to differentiate between UK pages and US pages for UK/US users.

Reach: As of April 2011, Foursquare reported that it had 8 million registered users – a fair few, but tiny when compared to Facebook’s 500 million users. Is it therefore a platform worth investing in?

N.B. This is Part 2 of 4 posts on this subject. Please do take a look at the following:

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Foursquare: Uses and Benefits

As a PR, I’m always keen to learn about new and developing trends in digital and social media marketing. One such trend is Foursquare, a location-based social networking site. Having recently downloaded the free App on my Blackberry, I’ve finally decided it’s time to get to grips with this new tool and decipher its value, both for users (let’s face it – it’s about me), and for brands.

Since its launch in 2009, Foursquare has been used by multiple users and businesses for a range of purposes. The following list is a culmination of my own observations, as well as those gauged by other net-users such as Lifehacker, and aims to offer advice on how users and businesses alike can utilise Foursquare for best results:

  • Read and leave user’s Tips. Before planning your weekend or booking your business trip, Foursquare allows users to leave and read tips about destinations, from must-see tourist attractions to which cocktail is best, allowing you to make the most of your visit. For businesses, a good review is key to driving further revenue.
  • Look out for Deals: Nearby vendors can offer you Deals (an incentive to visit an outlet) or rewards, for example for checking in X number of times. This thus acts like an online loyalty scheme that rewards you whilst simultaneously promoting the company to your followers every time you check-in – win/win?
  • Enjoy/employ the game mechanic. The game-mechanic encourages users to get out and about to earn badges for ’achievements’, i.e., not being a recluse. It thus offers a way to connect with people in real-life and not just online. For businesses, this means the opportunity to directly manipulate real-life footfall by engaging with consumers online.
  • Explore your local area. For me, Foursquare has been useful (particularly on my mobile) for revealing what’s in the local area in terms of shops, attractions and amenities. This can be handy whether you’ve just moved into an area, are visiting an unknown holiday destination, or are away for work and need to find a service pronto.

N.B. This is Part 1 of 4 posts on this subject. Please do take a look at the following chapters:

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Did someone say viral? #SkittlesTouch: Cat

Now that we’re all used to the idea of static YouTube virals, innovative brands like Tipp-Ex and Skittles have recently tried tactics a little different from the norm, involving viewers in the on-screen video action to increase consumer engagement.

Skittles have just launched a series of inventive ‘Skittles Touch’ YouTube videos which require viewers to place their thumb or finger over a select spot on their computer screen (thus ‘touching the rainbow’ – Skittle’s slogan). In each video the finger becomes somehow involved in the video action. I defy anyone not to laugh at this:

Only posted yesterday, the video already has 284,322 views, setting it up for the halls of viral stardom. Though other ‘touch’ videos have also been posted, this is the most popular so far. My second favourite is probably War Finger as I can’t help finding it amusing that someone somewhere has made my finger have a conversation with an imaginary/digital friend-finger.

Back in August 2010, Tipp-Ex also created a viral interactive YouTube video whereby the viewer became involved in deciding the fate of an on screen hunter and bear, beginning with the simple choice of ‘Shoot the Bear’ / ‘Don’t Shoot the Bear’. 

From this point, the viewer can then effectively write the story of the hunter and the bear by inputting verbs into the sentence ‘The hunter _____ the bear’. Though not every word will have a response, a number of popular verbs have been captured in a filmed response and will then play on command.

Using Tipp-Ex as an eraser, viewers can then re-write the sentence to explore a different outcome, and thus witness the practicality of the product. The video now has 15,904, 804 views and what Tipp-Ex call a 500% virality rate, plus it has also resulted in a 5% increase in sales. Not bad for a brand’s first ever YouTube video.

With slogans like ‘tippexperience’ and ‘Experience the Rainbow’, these brands are clearly leading the way in the growing trend for consumer engagement, proving that interaction with consumers is a critical factor in driving sales, talkability and brand loyalty.

Anyone fancy a Skittle?

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Evian: Roller Baby Yourself

We all know that engaging people when it comes to brands is one of the first steps towards building brand loyalty – who doesn’t love to be involved? My latest favourite example of such a tactic is Evian’s ‘Roller Baby Yourself’ Facebook application, launched on 4th January.

Following on from their successful social media campaign last year where the video of digitally-animated babies ‘roller-skating’ to music became a YouTube hit (with over 45 million views), and then an ad, Evian has now launched the priceless ‘Roller Baby Yourself’ application which is set to roam across social networking sites near you.

In the style of the massively popular ‘Elf Yourself’ app where you can upload the faces of your friends and family onto hyperactively dancing elves, ‘Roller Baby Yourself’ allows you to upload photos into three head ‘slots’ so that they replace those of the babies on the ad. All you have to do is ‘Like’ the group (thus sharing the brand with your followers), allow the app to access your pictures, and off you go!

The process really is effortless; the application allows you to use either a webcam to add pictures, upload photos from your computer, or use pictures on Facebook. Once you’ve found the photo you want, you can move it about and tilt it until it fits onto your baby’s body seamlessly (or close enough!), before creating your video. Here’s a snapshot of mine in action:

After creating your video (which is inevitably rather amusing), you are encouraged to share it via email, on Facebook and on Twitter to your friends and family, hence spreading the Evian word – ‘live young’. Not only this, but the campaign is also supported by accompanying marketing materials that aptly promote the brand’s ‘live young’ ethos, whilst also raising a smile:

With sponsored video ads playing at train and tube stations across the UK also promoting the video and Facebook group (which has already attracted over 150,000 fans), it looks like much of the nation are set to be transformed into memorable all-singing all-skating baby versions of themselves this year, courtesy of Evian.

You can view my video and make your own here: http://t.co/OshjpyX

Enjoy!

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